Recently I have received many letters regarding the trucker protest in Ottawa asking me where I stand on this particular issue and whether I attended the protest.
The original intent of the trucker protest was to have the federal government drop the requirement for truckers crossing the border into Canada to be vaccinated. However, the United States has the same rule in place and the Canadian government does not have any control over this requirement. Even if truckers were allowed to pass into Canada unvaccinated, they would not be able to cross into the United States in the first place. Thus, while I understand the frustration of the unvaccinated truckers, their proposed solution does not actually resolve their concerns.
It is important to remember that the vast majority of truckers have been vaccinated and continue to serve Canadians daily. Like any profession in Canada, there are a small minority who chose to remain unvaccinated.
(It is also important to remember that the vast majority of the public health restrictions the protestors are displeased with are mandated provincially and not federally.)
However, it is also clear this protest has significant support across Canada and I take from this that there is increasing frustration with pandemic and the associated uncertainty. Like many of the protestors, I do share significant concern about the impact border rules are having on our supply chains and I expect the Liberal government to take these concerns seriously. Like many of the protestors, I do think we need to look for alternatives to sustain our economy when there are people who do not want to be vaccinated. While I have always strongly encouraged all Canadians that are able to be vaccinated, I also realize that this is not likely to happen and it is time our public policy acknowledges this reality. Alienating and name-calling of the unvaccinated is never going to increase vaccination rates.
The truth is COVID is not going anywhere any time soon and Canada needs to address this reality and come up with a long-term approach to this public health challenge. Our economy and our mental health cannot sustain endless openings and closings of the economy, layoffs, supply chain shortages and the like. As they say, ‘we need to learn to live with COVID’ and it is time the federal Liberal government present Canadians with a workable long-term plan to accomplish this. If this were the sole message of the trucker protest, I would have no reservations in publicly supporting their goal.
I am aware some Parliamentarians did attend the protest in support of their constituents while others chose not to. While I was in Ottawa preparing for the upcoming session, I did not attend. It is up to each individual to make their own determination on whether to attend this protest or not and each individual will make this determination for their own reasons. I will not comment on the decisions of others in this regard and invite you to contact them directly to hear their reasons for attending or not attending.
This brings me to my final point. One of the principle reasons this protest has manifested to this size and attracted so much financial support is because a significant number of Canadians feel they are no longer being listened to. Even worse, many feel targeted for their beliefs and belittled by their own government. I think that as a nation we need to listen more to those we think we disagree with to find common-ground on which we can agree. Alienating individuals who do not think exactly as we think of ourselves does nothing to bring a nation together. We need to avoid dividing our nation into tribes of ‘us versus them’. It is time we stop demonizing those we disagree with, reach out and listen and find a way to move forward together. We will only emerge from this pandemic when we find a way to have all Canadians pulling in the same direction.
Len Webber, MP